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Training Provides Entry to Careers in Health Care

Workers with a certificate earn an estimated $5,000 to $7,000 more per year than those with a high school diploma.

(Above) As a senior at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, Kyana Martinez, studied in a pharmacy tech class at Lehman College in the Bronx. CVS Caremark is a partner in the program. Photo by Ari Mintz for The New York Community Trust


(Above) Seeking a better future, community health worker Nilda Jimenez signed up for training to become a medical assistant. After completing an internship, she was promoted to a position with greater responsibility and is a step closer to her dream of becoming a nurse. Photo by Ari Mintz for The New York Community Trust

Health care is among the fastest-growing job sectors in New York City. While the highest-level jobs in the field require advanced degrees, most health care occupations don’t require a college degree, just the proper training, and in some cases, certification.

The New York City Sectors Initiative was the first public-private effort to provide training for job seekers, which the City’s Department of Small Business Services and the Workforce Funders put together in 2005. For Saline Richards, it was a lifesaver, allowing her to build a second career as a radiology technician—or ‘rad tech’—following a series of setbacks that left her unemployed.

Richards was one of many ‘second chance’ students who took advantage of the training programs offered through the Sectors Initiative, which supported training programs in growth areas, including radiological technology. Advances in this field, including computerized tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), had created jobs, but workers required additional training and credentialing in order to qualify for careers in hospitals, imaging centers, and physicians’ offices.

Providing high-quality health care to New Yorkers depends on a skilled workforce. The New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH) is a partnership of trade associations, a labor management fund, and other key stakeholders in health care, education, and city government that prepares workers for a variety of jobs.

Many factors are changing health care jobs: among them an aging population, the Affordable Care Act, New York’s Medicaid Redesign, and rising costs. The medical assistant position used to be purely clerical but now combines administrative and clinical responsibilities. Medical assistant positions are expected to grow approximately 25 percent statewide by 2022. In addition to medical assistants, NYACH has developed training initiatives for home health aides, pharmacy technicians, patient care technicians, and newly graduated nurses and prepares students for certification exams.

Nilda Jimenez, an office worker at a community health center in East Harlem, spent her days greeting patients, answering the phone, and performing other clerical tasks. She enjoyed her job but aspired to more. A single mother with a high school diploma, she dreamed of becoming a nurse but could not afford to return to school.

When a supervisor told her about a free training program where she could learn the skills needed to become a medical assistant, Jimenez signed up. She took a course that was developed with industry input at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, followed by an internship. Her new responsibilities include drawing blood, taking blood pressure, and testing patients for diabetes. She’s moved up a rung in salary and prestige and is closer to her dream of becoming a nurse.

“With the health care sector undergoing tremendous change as a result of state and federal reform, it’s never been more important for industry, education, philanthropy, and City government to come together to ensure that New Yorkers are being trained with the skills that health care employers demand,” says NYACH executive director Shawna Trager. “These opportunities provide viable career pathways.”

More than 1,200 job seekers and workers enrolled in NYACH-sponsored training programs as of March 2015.



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